Hamas has been raining rockets on southern Israel; 800 between January and October this year, 160 since last Saturday.
Today, Wednesday, Israel hit back at several targets including weapon stores, and made a perfect surgical strike on a moving car carrying the military head of Hamas.
This report comes from The Times of Israel:
The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza City, killing Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s armed wing — the equivalent of an army’s chief of staff — and his son, Mohammed al-Homs. Palestinian sources put the death toll at up to nine by evening.
Following the airstrikes, Palestinians launched some 17 rockets at Beersheba, two rockets at the coastal city of Ashkelon, and two more at the Eshkol region. Some of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Residents within range of rocket fire from Gaza were requested to remain within 15 seconds of a shelter. School was called off for Thursday throughout the south, including in Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon. The police raised alert levels amid fears of terror attacks.
The army confirmed the airstrike on Jabari and said that it had launched a “widespread campaign on terror sites and operatives in the Gaza Strip, chief among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets.” The IDF Spokesperson’s Office told The Times of Israel that the campaign was being referred to as “Operation Pillar of Defense”. ["Pillar of Cloud" according to other sources, and more likely - JB.]
“By nature of his position, Jabari has been responsible over the past decade for all anti-Israel terror activity emanating from the [Gaza] Strip,” the Shin Bet security agency said in a statement. … [He] was identified by “precise intelligence” gathered over several months. …
Witnesses said Jabari was traveling in a vehicle in Gaza City when the car was blown up. Crowds of people and security personnel rushed to the scene of the strike, trying to put out the fire that had engulfed the car and left it a charred shell.
Hamas police said other airstrikes hit targets in Gaza City, Khan Younis, Beit Lahiya and Rafah. Raed Atar, the head of Hamas’s Rafah Battalion, was reportedly targeted in one of those strikes. Hamas denied reports that Atar and Marwan Issa, another leading figure in the al-Qassam Brigades, had been killed. …
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai confirmed that the strike was “part of our goal, to land serious blows on Hamas and other organizations. Jabari is the first target… We’ve only just started, and this isn’t the end of it. All of the options are open, and we will persist in our determination to continue to hit all of the [terror] organizations further down the line.”
Mordechai said that the IDF was prepping its ground troops for a possible incursion into the Gaza Strip, but noted that such an operation was not necessarily going to happen, and that the IDF didn’t want to turn Operation Pillar of Defense into a second Cast Lead — the winter 2008-9 assault on Hamas in Gaza that did include extensive ground operations.
Shortly after Mordechai’s announcement, the IDF issued a call-up for reservists in the Home Front Command unit.
Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovich of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said that up to 20 terror sites in the Gaza Strip had been targeted. Hamas security officials said Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. ,,,
Jabari was credited with being one of the leaders of Hamas’s violent putsch to take control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and masterminded the professionalization of the organization’s military.
Israel attempted to kill Jabari in an airstrike in 2004, but ended up killing his eldest son, his brother, and several cousins instead.
Jabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since Operation Cast Lead four years ago. Jabari has long topped Israel’s most-wanted list and was notorious in Israel, which blamed him for a string of attacks, including the terror infiltration which saw the capture of soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. …
A capture now avenged.
And Israel may have gained a respite from the constant rocket attacks.
Targeted killings of senior terror leaders had in the past brought about extended periods of calm along the Gaza border.
Syria’s civil war has been spilling over Israel’s border on the Golan Heights.
Israel has only the strength of its own right arm to depend on for survival in a hostile region and a mostly hostile world. The political support of US governments came to an end with the election of Islam-loving President Obama.
All the while, Iran gets nearer and nearer to becoming the nuclear-armed power whose leaders have promised to obliterate Israel.
That small democratic country must hit harder than it is hit, and preferably first.
190 rockets have been fired at Israeli cities from Gaza over the last 76 hours according to this March 12 report.
Israel has intercepted and destroyed many of them using the defensive weapon named Iron Dome.
It is not an offensive weapon as The Times alleges:
HonestReporting corrects the caption:
[The Times is] wrong. The Iron Dome intercepts Palestinian rockets approaching Israeli population centers like Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, etc.
Moreover, the Times can’t blame this on the European Press Agency’s original caption. The EPA got it right.
It is true that the rocket attack was in response to an Israeli airstrike against the kidnapper of Gilad Shalit.
This is the Telegraph’s report of the successful hit:
The commander of the Palestinian militant group behind the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was killed in an airstrike in Gaza on Friday. Zuhair al-Qaissi, the commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a Hamas-aligned militant group, was targeted in a midday strike as his car rolled through Gaza City. His son-in-law and another aide also died in the attack while Israel’s military said it killed two more militants in a separate operation.
Then came the massive rocket attack from Gaza.
Rick Moran writes at Front Page:
Israel needed Iron Dome to perform above expectations the past few days because the PRC and its Islamic Jihad allies felt it necessary to respond to the pinpoint strike that took out al-Qassi. That strike reveals a slight change in Israeli defense doctrine, according to YNet News. While Israel has always reserved the right to take preemptive action against the terrorists, this sort of targeted assassination is the result of the terrorist attack last August that killed eight Israelis. the Israelis apparently had an opportunity to kill al-Qassi at that time, but decided against it because they knew there would be a retaliatory rocket strike by the terrorists on civilians. Once Israel’s intelligence services got wind of the plot, it was decided to take out al-Qassi despite the almost certain retaliation with rockets on Israeli civilian centers.
He provides this information about Iron Dome:
Iron Dome has an unconventional history. It took only three years from design to deployment — a rarity among complex weapons systems. The tracking system was developed by Elta, an Israeli defense company while the computer software was created by the Israeli firm Prest Systems. The interceptor rocket was built by Rafael.
It is a marvel of technology and can actually determine if a rocket is a threat to a population center, or whether it will land harmlessly in an open field. CNN describes the system:
“First deployed in April 2011, the Iron Dome system targets incoming rockets it identifies as possible threats to city centers and fires an interceptor missile to destroy them in mid-air. Each battery is equipped with an interception management center to calculate the expected location of impact, and to prioritize targets according to pre-defined targets. The battery also has firing-control radar used to identify targets, and a portable missile launcher.”
This was the first serious battlefield test of Iron Dome and it passed with flying colors. The Jerusalem Post reports that Iron Dome intercepted a total of 27 rockets for a 90% success rate. It is currently deployed around three of the larger cities in the south: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba. The system is entirely mobile and it is expected that once all batteries are deployed, Israel will potentially be able to intercept any missile fired from Gaza. …
The most common rocket in the terrorists’ arsenal is the Qassam – a small, inaccurate projectile whose major benefit appears to be its easy portability. There are several variants of the weapon and its range is limited to between 5 and 15 miles. Hamas also has a Russian-designed Grad rocket system that is truck mounted, which it purchased from Iran. Iron Dome can intercept all of these rockets.
A fourth Iron Dome battery is expected to be added later this year with 5 additional batteries to be manufactured by 2013. An Israeli defense official [said] it would take 13 batteries to cover the border with Gaza. …
The response to the rocket barrage from the terrorists by the Israeli air force has received the usual blanket coverage in the media, highlighting every Palestinian civilian casualty while downplaying — or not even mentioning — the rain of rockets that is constantly hurled at the Jewish state. Not reported in the media were the 45 separate rocket attacks by the terrorists just since January 1 of this year. That number does not include the attacks carried out over the last three days. …
With the fully tested and functional Iron Dome rocket defense system, the threat by terrorists to harm civilians will fade.
A new theory about the death of the Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last January emerges: the intention was to drug and kidnap him, not kill him.
The story is derived from statements of supposition made by unnamed ‘US intelligence sources’, and does not solve the mystery of who killed al-Mabhouh and why.
Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh … was not targeted for death but for capture as a live hostage against the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier whom Hamas kidnapped four years ago in a cross-border raid from Gaza and holds without contact with the outside world. …
Mabhouh was to have been one of half a dozen high-value Hamas operatives Israel planned to grab in January in different parts of the Middle East as bargaining chips for the Israeli soldier.
As the man in charge of Iran’s weapons supplies to Hamas, Mabhouh was judged a key lever for obtaining the Israeli soldier’s freedom.
US [intelligence] sources believe the plan to snatch him from a Dubai hotel went smoothly enough up until the last step. But then, the drugs administered to knock him out appeared to have killed him on the spot. He was meant to be doped enough to let himself be bundled out of the hotel on his two feet in the middle of the team of abductors without drawing attention. According to this theory, the team was to have driven him to Dubai port and put him aboard a waiting yacht, which was to sail off and rendezvous with an Israeli naval missile boat in the Red Sea.
After delivering him, the same team was to have proceeded to its next target.
But whether they gave Mabhouh an overdose or whether his health was frailer than believed, he did not survive. The abduction team leader, lacking instructions for this exigency, decided to abort the mission and leave the dead man in place. He told the would-be abductors to get out of Dubai fast and scatter. The rest of the high-risk, ambitious plan was scrapped.
Had it succeeded, say the US sources, it would have been Israel’s biggest abduction operation ever, attesting to the extremely high importance Israel attaches to recovering its soldier from captivity.
Hamas says jump, and al-Reuters says how high, inshallah. …
Hamas was upset at an on-line ad that was seen at the Reuters Arabic service site, offering a $10 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit [the Israeli soldier Hamas is holding captive].
Reuters’ response to the terrorist group is instructive.
Palestine Today reports that Reuters responded to the criticism, saying that it was an automated ad placed there by Google Ads, and not – Allah forbid! – placed by any Reuters staffers. After all, an ad that seeks to free a prisoner illegally held in an unknown location without any access to the Red Cross would be thoroughly offensive to any Reuters employee, right?
Reuters then cravenly added that they immediately acted to remove the ad, and “we are now taking steps to ensure non-recurrence of such things in the future.”
Reuters additionally wrote back to the offended terrorist organization that Reuters has a long history of covering the Middle East in a neutral and accurate manner, stressing that they are committed to continuing this approach, they wrote “We are clear and faithful to our principles of integrity, independence and distance from bias.”
Clear and faithful to Islamic principles, which explains Reuters principles of integrity, dependence, and bias. Keep this in mind when reading any of their “news.”
This comes from Creeping Sharia, one of the websites that keeps us informed of news the mainstream media often prefer not to spread.
The son of a leading Hamas figure, who famously converted to Christianity, served for over a decade as the Shin Bet security service’s most valuable source in the militant organization’s leadership …
Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas founder and one of its leaders in the West Bank. The intelligence he supplied Israel led to the exposure of a number of terrorist cells, and to the prevention of dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts on Israeli figures. …
Yousef’s memoir, “Son of Hamas” … will be released next week in the United States. Yousef, 32, became a devout Christian 10 years ago and now lives in California after fleeing the West Bank in 2007 and going public with his conversion.
Yousef was considered the Shin Bet’s most reliable source in the Hamas leadership, earning himself the nickname “the Green Prince” – using the color of the Islamist group’s flag, and “prince” because of his pedigree as the son of one of the movement’s founders.
During the second intifada, intelligence Yousef supplied led to the arrests of a number of high-ranking Palestinian figures responsible for planning deadly suicide bombings. These included Ibrahim Hamid (a Hamas military commander in the West Bank, Marwan Barghouti (founder of the Fatah-linked Tanzim militia) and Abdullah Barghouti (a Hamas bomb-maker with no close relation to the Fatah figure). Yousef was also responsible for thwarting Israel’s plan to assassinate his father.
“I wish I were in Gaza now,” Yousef said by phone from California, “I would put on an army uniform and join Israel’s special forces in order to liberate Gilad Shalit. If I were there, I could help. We wasted so many years with investigations and arrests to capture the very terrorists that they now want to release in return for Shalit. That must not be done.” …
Only now … is Yousef exposing the secret he kept since 1996, when he was first held by Shin Bet agents seeking to enlist him in infiltrating the upper echelon of Hamas.
Their efforts proved successful, and Yousef was released from prison in 1997. His former handler, who no longer serves with the security service, says Yousef collaborated with Israel because he wanted to save lives.
“So many people owe him their life and don’t even know it,” said the handler, named in Yousef’s book as Captain Loai. “People who did a lot less were awarded the Israel Security Prize. He certainly deserves it.”
Loai makes no secret of his admiration for his former source. “The amazing thing is that none of his actions were done for money,” he says. “He did things he believed in… His grasp of intelligence matters was just as good as ours – the ideas, the insights. One insight of his was worth 1,000 hours of thought by top experts.”
Loai recalled one time when the Shin Bet received information that a suicide bomber was going to be picked up at Manara Square in Ramallah and be given an explosives belt.
“We didn’t know his name or what he looked like – only that he was in his 20s and would be wearing a red shirt,” he said. “We sent the Green Prince to the square and with his acute sense, he located the target within minutes. He saw who picked him up, followed the car and made it possible for us to arrest the suicide bomber and the man who was supposed to give him the belt. So another attack was thwarted, though no one knows about it. No one opens Champagne bottles or bursts into song and dance. This was an almost daily thing for the Prince. He displayed courage, had sharp antennae and an ability to cope with danger. We knew he was one of those who in any situation – rain, snow, summer – give their all.”
With his memoir, Yousef hopes to send a message of peace to Israelis. Still, he admits he is pessimistic over the prospect of Israel signing a peace agreement with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, let alone Hamas.
“Hamas cannot make peace with the Israelis. That is against what their God tells them. It is impossible to make peace with infidels, only a cease-fire, and no one knows that better than I. The Hamas leadership is responsible for the killing of Palestinians, not Israelis,” he said. “Palestinians! They do not hesitate to massacre people in a mosque or to throw people from the 15th or 17th floor of a building, as they did during the coup in Gaza. The Israelis would never do such things. I tell you with certainty that the Israelis care about the Palestinians far more than the Hamas or Fatah leadership does.”
We don’t often trust this source, the Israeli paper Haaretz, because it is biased to the left with all that that entails. But this time we believe it.
The Israeli government has released 20 Palestinian prisoners – the majority of them members of terror groups – in return for a video that verifies the health of captured solider Gilad Shalit.
In the video, Gilad speaks to the camera:
“Hello, I am Gilad, son of Noam and Aviva Schalit, brother of Hadas and Yoel, who lives in Mitzpe Hila. My ID number is 300097029.
“As you see I am holding in my hands the Palestine newspaper of September 14, 2009, published in Gaza. I am reading the paper in order to find information regarding myself, hoping to find some information from which I would learn of my release and upcoming return home. I have been hoping and waiting for the day of my release for a long time. I hope the current government under Binyamin Netanyahu will not waste the chance to finalize a deal, and I will therefore be able to finally have my dream come true and be released.
“I wish to send regards to my family and say to them that I love and miss them and yearn for the day in which I will see them again.
“Dad, Yoel and Hadas, do you remember the day when you visited my base on the Golan Heights on December 31st, 2005, that if I am not mistaken was called Revaya B. We walked around the base and you took photos of me on the Merkava tank and on one of the old tanks at the entrance to the base. We then went to a restaurant in one of the Druse villages and on the way we took photos on the side of the road with the snow-capped Mount Hermon in the background.
“I wish to say to you that I feel good, health-wise, and the Mujahadeen of the Izzadien al-Qassam Brigades are treating me very well. Thank you and goodbye.”
This unending appeasement of terror for little gain is something that the Israeli state will regret – every act of weakness will be exploited. How many more murderers and terrorists must be released before the Israeli state still fails to return Gilad to his home?
It is a troubling scenario – Israeli has a duty to its soldiers; but it also has a duty to its people, and will granting Hamas agitprop trophies and imprisoned killers do anything for Israel’s fortunes and survival in the long run?
This move will not spell peace for the Palestinians, it will increase the chances of another Hamas-started war. As long as such a despotic group exists, there can be no liberty or democracy for the people of Gaza.
This exchange is reminiscent of the release of Samir Kuntar. The moment he walked into Lebanon as a free man spelt the end of a hard earned 60 years cultivating the image of Israel as a capable, tough and proud state. Samir Kuntar is one of the most despised villains of Israeli society: a vicious murderer, his crimes included the inhuman beating to death of a three year old Israeli girl in front of horrified witnesses.
My horror at the release of this epitome of evil is not the support for his crimes that is propagated by Middle Eastern fundamentalist media outlets and despotic governments; it is not even shock at the (frankly expected) Western indifference for this monster – instead I am appalled by the virus that goes by the name of appeasement that has risen again to infect the integrity – or lack thereof – manifested by the weak politicians and activists of the liberal West.
The release of Samir Kuntar, four other terrorists and the hundreds of remains of dead Lebanese murderers marked the beginning of the end. Israel, more than any country, should realise that appeasement is a policy that will never work to their advantage.Machiavelli once wrote, “…one should never permit a disorder to persist in order to avoid a war, for war is not avoided thereby but merely deferred to one’s own disadvantage.”
Kuntar’s relase sent chilling reminders of Chamberlain’s efforts to secure peace; or the IRA murderers given their ill-gotten freedom by Blair’s government; the US government’s protection of Arafat in 1982; the attempted appeasement of Saddam Hussein before the 1990 Gulf War; the encouraged promotion of Islamic culture above all others in Western countries by Western governments; the suggestions of British judges for allowing some form of sharia law in Britain – the last hundred years have shown a frightening propensity for the West to fail to learn from its mistakes and to allow the forces of evil a chance to exist and prosper.
At the time, the release of the five terrorists for two dead Israeli soldiers, met one of Hezbollah’s few demands, another being the return of the Sheba farms to Lebanon. Is it that these unforgettable years of terrorism, torture, murder – the kind of cruelty unimaginable to civilized society – have all just been for the return of a few hundred yards of farm and a child murderer? – appeasement gives terror groups and terror States the time and support to commit even worse atrocities.
After Kuntar’s release, Hamas decided it was no longer going to agree to Israeli terms for the return of Gilad Shalit and was to demand greater returns for the terrorist group. Furthermore, a group of British MPs called for a dialogue with Palestinian terror groups, Hamas included; breaking the policy of no recognition that most Western countries had pursued at the time.
These endless sacrifices for Shalit may all be in vain. It is Israel’s duty to return that soldier home, but in doing so, should it be risking the lives and well-being of her other citizens?
Sam Westrop runs the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy